The Welsh government, who have proposed a ban on e-cigarettes, finally managed to win support from some Plaid Cymru AMs. It required modifying the original proposal to cover only places where there are likely to be children.
There has long been an effort to stigmatize smoking, and it’s been rather successful. While some people worry that e-cigarettes might make smoking seem normal again, critics claim there isn’t nearly enough evidence to support that theory.
On Tuesday, a bid by Liberal Democrats to completely scrap the ban failed.
The Public Health Bill receives its final vote next week.
Should the bill be passed, the ban on e-cigarettes may come as early as spring 2017.
Kirsty Williams, the Welsh Lib Dem leader, explained in a debate on Tuesday that she had talked to a multitude of people across Wales that used the device to successfully kick their tobacco habits.
Welsh Conservatives supported the Lib Dem bid. The Tory shadow health minister, Darren Millar, was quoted as saying: “There is more evidence of harm from smoke from a piece of burnt toast than there is of evidence of harm from the use an e-cigarette.”
There is support of the government’s regulations from some Plaid AMs.
Plaid AM for Ceredigion, Elin Jones, said she’d been persuaded of the requirement for a partial ban due to the issue of normalization.
However, Plaid had a free vote, and a split group. Some AMs, including Lidnsay Whittle, supported the Lib Dems.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford responded strongly, asking why the people wouldn’t want to prevent the risk of children being drawn in to a nicotine dependence, and then further drawn into a dependence on tobacco itself.
The government was originally seeking a much more comprehensive ban on e-cigarettes, which would have barred them from being used in any enclosed work or public space.
However, the AMs were divided on that subject. Plaid’s Elin Jones suggested imposing much less restrictive regulations on e-cigarettes than on tobacco.
Later, a compromise was added to the bill. It would make the devices restricted in hospitals, schools, train and bus stations, and any place that sold food.
Much like with tobacco products, hospitals will be allowed to designate certain areas as being exempt from the regulations.
On Tuesday, AMs voted to extend the reach of the ban. This allowed it to cover other venues, such as public libraries, shops, entertainment venues such as cinemas and zoos, and sports grounds.
Any pub that does not serve food is specifically excluded. Similarly excluded are casinos, sex establishments, adult gaming centers, betting shops, specialist e-cigarette retailers, any premise with a bingo license, and pharmacy consulting rooms.